Wonders & Signs!!!

Recently someone came up with the clever phrase ‘Jamaica is not a real place’ and at first it made me raise my eyebrow but then upon reflection I get the message it is sending: things in Jamaica are sometimes way stranger than fiction. Case in point – the new 17 million dollar sign out by Montego Bay round-a-bout. Now in all things common sense, why does a sign cost that much money?! What in the beans and burritos happened in that calculation to run it up to that amount? Is there gold dust mixed into the cement?! Enquiring minds definitely want to know.

In early 2018, a nasty car accident ended tragically, damaging the ‘Welcome to Montego Bay’ sign and therefore it needed to either be repaired or replaced. While I understand the need for a sign, I cannot understand the cost which will come from the Tourism Enhancement Fund a.ka., from tax payers’ purse which is what I have a major problem with.

In a nation where some schools still lack basic necessities such as adequate desks and chairs, running water and sanitary convenience such as flushing toilets, there is absolutely no justification for such an extravagantly expensive sign! None what so ever!

I don’t wanna hear about how the letters will illuminate at night and how the sign is suppose to be a tourist attraction. It ain’t the Hollywood sign; it’s not even a proper attraction like the statues at Emancipation Park. Ain’t nobody going there to take pictures except to snap a quick one to laugh about this dumb sign that cost even more than Petrojam’s Ramharack severance pay!

How can the government justify this unnecessary opulence in Montego Bay when nearby the Cornwall Regional Hospital lacks beds and patients are sleeping on the chairs and even the floor therefore compromising healthcare. But we spend millions on a sign! Welcome to stupidity folks!

My friends are always telling me that I’m full of conspiracy theories but I do believe that someone pocketed approximately 16.5 million of the 17 or at least got a hefty kick back. There’s no way that sign costs so much. I personally was in Montego Bay in late January and ensured that I passed that sign going both ways in the traffic….it looks ordinary. It aint no great upgrade from what was there before. It is like the case of the emperor’s new clothes. They keep telling us that it’s all that and some of us want to believe it but in the back of our minds we know we are being hoodwinked.

This is another example of public funds being wasted. In a country where we lack so many basic necessities like good roads, constant supply of water in our pipes, steady electricity etc, our priorities are out of sync with our current reality and all the numskulls in parliament want to talk about is how great this sign will be. Their cavalier attitude is an actual representation of what they do for us – next to nothing!

In November the Tourism Product Development Company Ltd (TPDCo) in response to the avalanche of criticisms, gave their version of an acceptable explanation by stating that “the sign is a tropical contemporary interpretation of a traditional resort along a bay.”….say what now? They further added that “it is the embodiment of the history of Montego Bay and will provide a total experience for locals as well as the millions of tourists who traverse the area. It must be noted that this is not just a sign but an attraction of first world proportion which will have a dual façade that faces the east as well as the west. There is a lighting component where letters will be illuminated and are changeable to match the seasons.” All I can say is their PR people worked overtime to concoct that convoluted crap and should get a bonus for serving ten pounds of crap outta a 5 pound bag!

When will we get understand that ‘minister’ means’ servant’ and that our public officials are there to serve us and therefore should be held accountable for the wastage that they cause. The person or persons who signed off on that signs should be asked for their resignation. Spending so much on something that aids no one is gross misconduct. It covers no surgery, fixes no roads, educates no young mind and does not even brightens the lives of the people of St James. What that signs actually illuminates is that there are serious flaws in our system. The process of bidding for the sign work should have been done AND make public so we can see if other prospective contractors bid to do the job at a lower cost. These things are not rocket science but I guess in Jamaica we just allow whatever happens to happens because it is all nine day talk and simple wonders and signs.

                                                                                             Nikki Cunningham  

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